Of Mice and Monsters X

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Several years after I was out of the relationship with my ex, my mother received a phone call from a detective in Boston wanting to know if I was alive.

My mom told him that I was alive.  He asked when the last time we had spoken.  She had told him it was about a week prior.  He explained that he needed confirmation from me that I was indeed alive and to contact him at the phone number he provided.  He explained that my ex had tried to developed a photograph at a local pharmacy which depicted a naked woman hanging from a tree, bound, blind-folded, gagged, and severely beaten.   He claimed that the woman in the photo was me.

My mother was of course shocked but told me to call the detective.  I did not believe it was the cops, I thought it may have been him posing as a police officer.  Instead I called the police department’s main number myself and asked for said detective.  The story checked out.   I was asked to come down to the police station to verify I was, and that I was alive.

I took the ride and met the detective.  He showed me the photo and I verified my identity.  He asked me if what happened in the photo was consensual.  I said that it was.   The detective seemed taken aback.    I did tell him at that time I wanted the photo destroyed and that was confused to me as to why my ex had been developing it in the first place since it had been years since we had split up.

The officer assured me that he would make sure he had put the fear of God in my ex about distributing a photo like this and the implications it would have for him if he didn’t destroy it.

As to why my ex had kept it all those years?  Like many Sociopaths, particularly those who are sexual sadists, most acquire trophies from their victims.  This photo of me may be a trophy of his handiwork.  He can re-live that day over and over again by looking at it.

That was the last I heard of him until two months ago when I received a Facebook friends request, which I promptly deleted.

I often read other blogs here on WordPress of both victims of Narcissism as well as a few Narcissists themselves.  I have been watching Sam Vatkin’s videos on YouTube for years. I also have been watching Richard Grannon on YouTube for near as long as well.

It would seem that I am doing a good job of staying no contact, despite the two hoovers he sent my way.   One came 1.5 years after he discarded me, the other five years later.   I am left with a morbid curiosity as to why he ever hoovered me so far out after discarding me.   I may well never know.

What I do know is that there is life after a Narcissistic Sociopath.   I eventually did go on to meet a new guy.   It’s only when one door closes they say that another can open.

Of Mice and Monsters VIIII

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The last thing I asked him as I carried my belongings to my car from his house was,

” So you would rather choose a life of paying for prostitutes, going to gangbangs, having NSA sex with people from craigslist, and swinging,  than being with me?

To which he answered,

” well I’m not sure I’d phrase it that way but yes .”

I’m not sure how many weeks it was after I pulled out of his driveway that I just couldn’t get him off my mind.  Good, bad, or worse you don’t spend five years with someone and then have it end just in a blink without being in a crap ton of pain.  It’s a loss.  Even if it was fake on his end, all the feelings had been real on mine.

He hadn’t called me, hadn’t emailed me, hadn’t texted me.  It was like I had never even existed. It was like all the ‘I love you’s he had told me was a lie. My mind could understand but my heart wouldn’t accept the truth.

I wanted answers as to why….closure, I desperately needed closure so I sent him an email. I asked him if he missed me and if he ever thought about me.

He did respond and said he would always love me but that I just didn’t fit into his life at this time.

I wrote back again asking if we could just be friends. If I would be able to just clean his house? Mow his lawn? I couldn’t imagine not having some small piece of him . The gaping hole in my heart that he occupied was just too deep. I didn’t feel strong enough to survive the loss.

He answered without hesitation, no.

When I wrote back insisting that I must mean something to him? He wrote back that I was becoming a nuisance and that if I ever contacted him again that he would call the police.

I was horrified.  Felt betrayed.  Five years of caring for him.  What happened to him hanging on my every word so early on? What happened to him teaching me every sexual move I knew?

At first I went numb.  Then after weeks of just lying round in my pajamas like a uniform, I did a google search for support groups for women who had been victims of abuse. I put in keywords silence, crazy, mood swings, abuse, sex addiction and found Narcissism.

Then I dig further and found online support groups through Facebook and joined. They don’t show up in your public groups list so your friends and family don’t know your in them.  There forums you can read others stories or situations anonymously or also comment and give feedback.  You can also write your own story and/ or situation and receive feedback.  I felt so much less isolated.

I also joined phone line support groups. This proved invaluable. I phoned into meetings a few times a week.  Talking with other women who experienced the same thing.  Different keypads on the phone muted and un-muted the phone and the meetings were highly structured so that one person spoke at a time.  At the end everyone got a chance to speak.

Every woman that I grew to know on those phone lines told me that he would come back for me one day. They said, “they all do.” They all used their term “Hoover.”

 Hoovering is a technique that is named after the Hoover vacuum cleaner, and is used by Narcissists (and other manipulative people) in order to “suck” their victims back into a relationship with them. Hoovering is often done after the silent treatment is given or the victim has left them.

I protested,” not this one he threatened the police on me and apparently made good on it, my local police notified me that although I wasn’t in any trouble, I was asked not to contact him again. That it wasn’t a restraining order but that it would be considered harassment if I did.

The women all insisted, “he’ll be back.”

And they were right.

_______________________________

A year and a half later,  it was Valentines Day evening.  I wasn’t doing much.  Watching TV,  when I heard a knock at the door.  I pulled the door open and there he stood.

My heart dropped.

I never ever expected to see him again.  He had a box of chocolates and a card in hand.  I had done a ton of recovery work but nothing had prepared me for this.

Well aren’t you going to invite me in?”

As if reflexively, by some unseen force  I opened the door.  It felt that way, because I felt afraid and yet I also felt hypnotized by him, unable to stop myself from opening the door.   There’s something powerful that is created in these trauma bonds they work so hard that form with you in the beginning.

Trauma bond was a term first created by Patrick Carnes used to describe “the misuse of fear, excitement, sexual feelings, and sexual physiology to entangle another person.”

A simpler and more encompassing definition is that traumatic bonding is: 

“a strong emotional attachment between an abused person and his or her abuser, formed as a result of the cycle of violence.”

I’m pretty sure that  Dracula was a supernatural Narcissist who used trauma bonds on his bitches too.

After I let him in, he initially hugged me but quickly his hands fell and tried to put the moves on me and I realized what he had come for.  All the recovery work was not lost.  I quickly led him to the door, thanked him for the chocolate, and shut and locked it after he left.  He looked quite surprised.  I even surprised myself.  I threw the chocolate out later.   My body did respond to him that night but I never said a thing and I never have.

Body Betrayal

When people survive repeated sexual assault or abuse, their body often betrays them by responding to their abuser by getting aroused and/or with an orgasm.  Researchers David Finkelhor and Kersti Yllo found that some women in their study reported that they had experienced pleasure during the rapes, particularly in cases of repeated rape. They write that this appears to be an “adaptive response” that makes repeated rape more survivable (1985 photo pg  125).

Asking him to leave, rather than falling for the trap of thinking that because my body was responding that it meant somehow we were “meant to be.” This was a huge moment of success for me.  I had ushered out the monster and ushered in, the infancy of self-care.

Donning the mask

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I struggle for authenticity.   There is a yearning for wholeness, for acceptance of self, for cohesion within myself.  Despite this, shame has always driven me to compartmentalize areas of my life; to stay fractured, splintered.

Only 3 friends know about this blog.  Still fewer know my dad signed his parental rights away when I was one and a half.  Few people who know me are aware that I swear like a sailor despite me having a good command of lexicon at my disposal.   My eating disorder is only known by my immediate family and 2 close friends.   I can count on one hand who knows this abbreviated story I recount here,  the abuse I suffered at the hands of my ex.  No one knows I am a survivor of incest as a child, but my shrink, my dying mother, and my fiancé.

It is still hard to say that out loud,” Isurvivedincest,” even in a therapy session behind closed doors where no one can hear.

But how to synthesize these areas of my life?  Would people be accepting of the “real me” after years of putting on a veneer and hiding the ugly things that I am ashamed which happened to me?

Me trading authenticity for acceptance began in early childhood.  Often doing what other kids wanted to do even if I didn’t want to, afraid I might lose them and/or their friendship.  I became a people pleaser at a very young age. In a desperate attempt for love and affection which were denied all around me.  Instead of getting love, I received the abuse, exploitation, and humiliation.

As a victim of incest, the first lessons I learned was that my home was not a safe place, and that my body was not my own, and that I didn’t get to have a  “no”.

As early as kindergarten I recall feeling shame, it manifested in feeling ‘less then’ the other kids.   Anxious and unsettled and wanting to sit near the teacher hoping she might like me or show me some approval.

As I grew older and the sexual abuse intensified and more violence in my home occurred, an irrational belief sprouted that the ugliness inside me may be transparent. I began creating a false persona to hide my shame.  Hide my tears.  Hide my emotions. Hide my authentic self.   I had observed first-hand that the girls who were quiet and sullen or melancholy got made fun of, got devoured like shark meat ny the mean kids.  So I immediately suppressed my feelings under a fake happy,  sunny,  disposition.   I realized that with my persona operating, that  I could “pass” for normal.   I could have friends, connection, some sort of meaning in an otherwise desolate life.

Because my older siblings were all poly-substance users, I too began smoking marijuana at age 12.  Took my first drink of vodka by 13 years old and never looked back.   By high school I could drink most guys under the table and had alcohol poisoning once.  I was not deterred by this.  At this point I believed that I couldn’t let the “real me” come through, the fake me had been operating for so long.  I’d lose everything, I feared. Friends were the only positive thing I had in my life at that time and I was petrified to lose them.  Even if their friendship was built upon knowing me, a girl who was hiding the pathetic, sad, depressed, nothing-to-offer loser who hated herself underneath this joke-telling, witty, charismatic confident false girl they came to love.

Using booze and pot helped me turn down the volume of the authentic me deep inside me, screaming for relief and accelerate the fake persona that I was creating externally, that was happy and confident.  As I was fast approaching my high school years substance use was just I needed to survive all the sharks who would eat me up.

I don’t remember much of high school due to all the alcohol and marijuana use.  My parents divorced and our house was sold.  I found myself looking for a place to stay as neither parent was financially capable of absorbing me after I graduated.

I had never told either of my parents  about the incest.   As I entered my freshman year of college, my eating disorder was so severe that I had starved myself down to an emaciated state.  I couldn’t think or read very well as my mental functioning had declined from being malnourished.  For many months I was harming myself, also called self-mulilation.   I used self-injury to push back any feelings of intense emotion with which I couldn’t cope.   Then things changed and my feelings simply left.  My depression intensified and I just felt numb all the time.  Empty, cold, void of any emotion had become the new norm.  I had persistent and intrusive thoughts of suicide.   This dragged on for 6 months or more.  I figured I may as well be physically dead too.  Seemed logical to me.  Finally one night I decided to end my life.

First, I asked God to forgive me, and then I went ahead with it.   I guess God had other plans.  After getting discharged from the regular hospital,  I was sectioned involuntarily into a psychiatric hospital.   This was the first time in a long time any of what happened to me as a child would surface again in my consciousness.

I find it interesting that had I not attempted suicide at 19, I may have well have kept that mask on.   My authentic self may never have had the chance to be re-born.  My then therapist told me, “sometimes we have to have a complete and total breakdown, so we can put ourselves back together in a more healthy way.”

It has taken many years in therapy and I am still only able to let down my guard and become vulnerable to a few.  Happiness? Real long-standing  happiness? Still elusive I’m afraid.  I do find moments of real joy though.  I’m told I can learn to expand those and they can grow.  Self-love is the one thing I have yet to be able to achieve.  I have been working on learning to set boundaries and learning what it looks like to truly care about myself.  Imagine, having to be taught that.  Most of my life has been spent caring for others and I do that really well.   Historically, I give and give until I am emotionally drained or financially bankrupt.   The goal for me  is to learn to put myself first and not feel guilty for doing so.

Though I have always had the ability to love others and deeply empathize, I find it strange that both myself and my pathological narcissist both employed “masks” to hide our authentic selves.  Perhaps we have something in common after all.